For Avon Cobourne, thereís no need to watch the leaves drop to the ground to figure out the time of the calendar year.
In Cobourneís world, all thatís required is to pay attention to his inner self.
ďIím a little nervous,íí began Cobourne on Thursday at windy Ivor Wynne Stadium.
And with statement Cobourne essentially revealed how engaged heís been this week, how eager heís looking forward to Sundayís semifinal against the host Montreal Alouettes.
When the butterflies intensify the focus becomes more heightened, Cobourne knows itís playoff time, a time when footballís stars must be all aligned for the sportís playmakers to step up and make plays.
Enter Cobourne, who looms as the X-factor in Montreal, the one guy who will ultimately help decide which team advances to Winnipeg next weekend and a berth in the Grey Cup.
If Cobourne doesnít get 20 touches, then something is clearly amiss in the Hammer.
If Cobourne doesnít get used as both a running threat and a receiving presence, heads should roll.
Afterall, hereís a guy the Ticats viewed as the missing piece in a puzzle that has turned out to be a series of puzzlement given how unpredictably inconsistent the Ticats have been the last three years, including this seasonís 8-10 finish.
No one knows the Als better than Cobourne and no one understands what level of play is required at this time of the season.
In Montreal, Cobourne normally prepared for one game to get to the title game, a luxury afforded for finishing atop the division.
As a Ticat, two wins are now needed to secure a trip to the Grey Cup, two games where Cobourne simply must be Hamiltonís best player on offence.
Itís easy to point to the 8-3 record this season when Cobourne gets at least 10 touches and the 0-6 mark when heís held to single digits.
But what canít be measured is an attitude that gets established when Cobourne gets established along the ground and the mismatches that are possible when used as a downfield receiver.
Failure to use Cobourne properly on Sunday would represent on the Ticatsí game planning and overall use of a guy who is used to playing when the stakes are at their highest.
ďIím a little nervous because I want to make those plays,íí he added. ďI want to be that guy who makes those plays.
ďWhen Iím nervous I play better. Itís a big game for me and I want this game. Basically, thatís the way it is.Ē
And so it should be and must be for Cobourne, whose lead must be followed by his Hamilton teammates.
Anyone who was watched the Ticats the last two days must be impressed at the focus and tempo at each practice.
At the same time, anyone who truly knows which Ticats team ultimately shows up in Montreal is a complete fool given how foolish Hamilton has looked each time it appeared a hurdle had been cleared.
ďThis is a time where there canít be any ups and downs,íí Cobourne said. ďYouíve got to be consistent or youíll be going home. And Iím not ready to go home.
ďI want to win my last game.Ē
Itís why the nerves heís feeling gives Cobourne reason for optimism, that perhaps a big game and big effort from his team will play themselves out at Olympic Stadium.
ďI have that feeling that this is important,íí he continued. ďThatís not to say that every game isnít important, but you donít normally get butterflies unless itís a really big game.
ďItís one of those games where we got to have the intensity and the mental ability to focus.Ē